EU opens antitrust investigation into Amazon

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As this year’s Prime Day(s) ended earlier this week, Amazon has come into focus once again as the European Union is investigating the ecommerce giant for potential antitrust violations.

It appears as if the EU has been on somewhat of a roll in the past year, having gunned for Google and Apple recently for antitrust violations as well.

In regard to its investigation of Amazon, the European Commission released a press statement in which it outlined the grounds for such an inquiry.

To that end the Commission believes Amazon may be using consumer shopping data in order to give itself an unfair advantage over other smaller retailers who also make use of the ecommerce platform.

“European consumers are increasingly shopping online. E-commerce has boosted retail competition and brought more choice and better prices. We need to ensure that large online platforms don’t eliminate these benefits through anti-competitive behaviour. I have therefore decided to take a very close look at Amazon’s business practices and its dual role as marketplace and retailer, to assess its compliance with EU competition rules,” explained commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

The Commission will also be looking at how the platform leverages data, and in particular how it may use it to influence consumers, citing the use of the “Buy Box” on the site.

As The Verge highlights, this isn’t the first antitrust investigation that Amazon has had to contend with, having changed its third-party seller service agreement, resulting from a specific issue involving German regulators. This latest investigation, however, is not related, but shows that organisations in the region are keeping a close eye on how Amazon operates.

Amazon has also told the US-based publication that it plans to fully cooperate with the Commission’s investigation.

With Google less than pleased about how its antitrust case panned out, it will be interesting to see how Amazon reacts should it receive a less than favourable outcome and hefty fine.

[Image – Photo by Frederic Köberl on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.